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Critics and controversy aside,The Da Vinci Codeis a verifiable blockbuster. Combine the film's huge worldwide box-office take with over 100 million copies of Dan Brown's book sold, andThe Da Vinci Codehas clearly made the leap from pop-culture hit to a certifiable franchise. The leap for any story making the move from book to big screen, however, is always more perilous. In the case ofThe Da Vinci Code, the plot is concocted of such a preposterous formula of elements that you wouldn’t envy screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, the man tasked with making this story filmable. The script followsDan Brown’s bookas closely as possible while incorporating a few needed changes, including a better ending. And if you’re like most of the world, by now you’ve read the book and know how it goes: while lecturing in Paris, noted Harvard Professor of Symbology Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is summoned to the Louvre by French police to help decipher a bizarre series of clues left at the scene of the murder of the chief curator. Enter Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou), gifted cryptologist. Neveu and Langdon team up to solve the mystery, and from there the story is propelled across Europe, ballooning into a modern-day mini-quest for the Holy Grail, where secret societies are discovered, codes are broken, and murderous albino monks are thwarted… oh, and alternative theories about the life of Christ and the beginnings of Christianity are presented too, of course. It’s not the typical formula for a stock Hollywood thriller. In fact, taken solely as a mystery, the movie almost works--despite some gaping holes--mostly just because it keeps moving. Brown’s greatest trick was to have the entire story take place in one day, so the action is forced to keep moving, despite some necessary pauses for exposition. As a screen couple, Hanks and Tautou are just fine together but not exactly memorable; meanwhile Sir Ian McKellen’s scenery-chewing as pivotal character Sir Leigh Teabing is just what the film needed to keep it from taking itself too seriously. The whole thing is like a good roller-coaster ride: try not to think too much about it--just sit back and enjoy the trip.--Daniel Vancini

 


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On The DVD
The DVD extras on a film as popular as The Da Vinci Code should be plentiful, and this version doesn’t skimp. With over 90 minutes of special features, including ten behind-the-scenes featurettes, there’s a lot here to explore beyond the film itself. The question is, is there anything new here that we haven’t heard before, in all the hype, pseudo-documentaries, and controversy surrounding the movie, to make it worthwhile? For most viewers, the answer will be "yes." Essentially, if you like the movie, if you enjoyed the book, you will get a lot out of them.

Just as the movie is intended to make the book come to life, the DVD extras should make the film come to life by pointing the audience into the world of the filmmakers, connecting the dots between print and film, and for the most part they do just that. The extras here range from the typical look behind-the-scenes to more in-depth features on the supporting characters, the locations, and the Mona Lisa herself. "First Day on the Set with Ron Howard" features the director gushing about the opportunity to film in the Louvre and work with Tom Hanks again (the two worked together before on Splash and Apollo 13). It’s a short piece that doesn’t reveal much beyond making an attempt to share Howard’s excitement (with the "Gee, I really loved working with him/her on this project" that you hear in every such featurette), but viewers might enjoy seeing how the stage was set up in the famous museum, down to the spike tape on the floor showing actors where to hit their marks. The Filmmaking Experience, Parts 1 and 2 further explores the creative and technical aspects of the filmmaking process. A Conversation with Dan Brown starts out feeling like a puff-piece (the man who wrote this book got started at age 5 with a story called The Giraffe, The Pig, and the Pants on Fire. "It was a thriller," he says.) and unfortunately it doesn’t go very deep into much of anything of interest. But on the other hand, this isn’t 60 Minutes here; it’s intended to give viewers a better sense of the man behind the franchise, which it does. Much of the footage from this interview is sprinkled throughout some of the other featurettes. Meanwhile, the character behind the franchise, Robert Langdon, is examined in his own featurette, as is Sophie Neveu. The cool thing here is getting under the skin of the actors to see how they approached the characters, knowing that most of the movie-going public already has formed their own ideas about the characters from the book.

The most interesting extras are the featurettes that focus on the history behind the mystery. Or is it the mystery behind the history? Either way, the first one on the Mona Lisa, and the second featurette on the many codes and symbols that are hidden throughout the movie balance out the remainder of the extras nicely by demonstrating the sense of intrigue, mystery, and game-playing adventure that made The Da Vinci Code so popular in the first place. --Daniel Vancini

Beyond The Da Vinci Code

The Films of Tom Hanks

The Films of Ron Howard

The Da Vinci DVDs: Decoding "The Da Vinci Code"

More About The Artist

Stills from The Da Vinci Code (click for larger image)

 

 


 


 


 

 

 

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Details

CastTom Hanks, Paul Bettany, Jean Reno, Ian McKellen
DirectorRon Howard
DVD Release Date:  November 14, 2006
Studio:  Sony Pictures
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review by . November 07, 2009
When I first heard of this movie I didn't really know what to expect I thought it would be just another conspiracy thriller a run of the mill action fueled adventure flick, but sadly to say I didn't get that here. What I got was a boring and very drawn out and mundane film that tried it's best but failed to live up to the hype and grandeur of the novel that it spawned from.             The DaVinci Code is not a great movie, it's what you call good rainy day …
review by . December 29, 2008
I liked the book, but The Da Vinci Code movie could have been far better.    First off, I don't know why they cast Tom Hanks. He lacks sex appeal, and yes this sounds shallow, but he just isn't the man for the role.     Secondly, the acting just isn't that great. I feel like the film was hastily put together because the book performed so well in markets. As a result, they probably didn't edit the film as well as they should have, and the actors were probably …
review by . May 11, 2009
Excellent film adaptation of Brown's book that loses none of the suspense and does an excellent job in the two hours it spans. I disagree with a lot of the critics that complain about the faithfulness to the book. All the key points are covered and quite well in the time allotted. Tom Hanks does an excellent job as Robert Landon, who seems to be mysteriously blamed for the murder of a curator in the Paris Louvre art museum. He is relentlessly hunted by the police like the recent Jason Bourne movies …
review by . February 08, 2007
Movies based on best-selling books are a risk in Hollywood as fans of the book often have high expectations and can grill a movie if it does not satisfy them. The makers of the Harry Potter and LOTR movies generally pleased the book fans, whereas the makers of Troy, Dinotopia, and War of the Worlds have not pleased the book fans. This being said, making a movie on a controversial book is an even greater risk, and The Da Vinci Code is probably one of the more controversial books to appear in the …
review by . December 04, 2006
When I read Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code," I thought to myself that this would be excellent on the big screen. All of the religious issues aside (I'm Catholic and not convinced by this work of FICTION!), "Code" read like a big action/mystery yarn with a non-stop chase sequence. Unfortunately, Ron Howard's handling of the book on the big screen isn't what I'd hoped for. The story seems to get lost in the "whodunit?" aspect and leaves most viewers (like my wife) completely lost until the end of …
review by . November 20, 2006
After finally viewing this film last night I thought it was alright. Movies such as this seem to be a great challenge for directors. This story been read by so many and I know the film is almost 2.5 hours long, but this could, and should have been a bit longer or expanded in the correct places. The first 200 pages of Dan Brown's book are adapted into about 20 minutes. All of the anagrams, the Fache (Jean Reno) stuff, investigating the crime scene. ALL of that goes by in an incredibly rushed 20 minutes. …
review by . November 15, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Puzzles are fun. `The Da Vinci Code' provides this fun with a provocative story line that immediately grabs one's interest. Intrigue is the film's hallmark. To be brief, we start out with the murder of a professor who is a link to a "code" kept secret by Bishop Manuel Aringarosa (A ring around Rosa-!) (Alfred Molina, also "Doctor Oct," `Spiderman II') who is the ecclesial leader of Opus Dei, a secret sect of the Catholic Church. To cover their crimes, they frame American Professor Langdon (Tom Hanks), …
review by . October 18, 2006
The DaVinci Code deserved better reviews than it received from the critics. Ron Howard did a good job of condensing a very long and complex plot into a comprehensible movie of reasonable length. Tom Hanks does an excellent job of portraying the American symbologist who is suspected of murder, and Audrey Tatou is an excellent counterpart to Hanks. I didn't even mind Tom's hair--it seemed appropriate for his character. My husband, who had not read the book, had no problems following the plot, whereas …
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